The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea
heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem
the circumcised believers confronted him, saying,
“You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.” (Acts 11:1-3)
Confusion — or, maybe jealousy — seems to enter the picture whenever the Lord is there.
How many times in the Gospels do we read about Jesus being confronted by the crowds because He ate with the “wrong” people, or cured the “wrong” people, or hung out with the “wrong” people? Continuously, Jesus would remind the people that God’s love is freely given to all, not just to some particular group. Thank God for that!
In today’s first reading at Mass, we hear about that same problem.
Peter had returned to Jerusalem after an important mission. He had brought many Gentiles to the faith and the Holy Spirit was working in and through them. This made the Christians who had come over from Judaism upset. They confronted Peter.
Peter, I am sure, appreciated the irony of the situation since he would have been with the Lord when people came up to Jesus to say, “You enter the house of sinners and eat with them.” Peter had not only entered the house of “sinners”, he entered the house of those who were considered outsiders.
The world, at that time, was pretty much Jew and Gentile. You either belonged (Jew) or you did not (Gentile). If you did not belong, you did not deserve to have your needs met. You should be ignored. You were very much outside the realm of their thought. The Jewish converts to Christianity still held that belief which was why they were so upset that Peter would minister to the Gentiles.
Peter acknowledged that he, too, had that belief. All the way to the time when he had a vision, a very disturbing vision, that made him realize that God, indeed, shows no partiality. God created all people. God loved all people. And God wanted all of His people to hear the message of His Son.
So Peter took the message to the Gentiles and they not only embraced the message, they flourished in the Spirit.
What will it take for us to believe that all people are God’s children and deserve to hear the Good News? Is there someone who should be in your life but whom you have excluded because that person is “wrong”. Maybe it was because of color, nationality, political party, sexual orientation, et cetera. Consider whether God would reject that person. Why then, should you?
FAITH ACTION: Make a plan to reach out to a person you may have excluded for any number of reasons.